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SDG Library - Organic waste management Module

Introduction to organic waste management for resilience of cities

While world hunger is on the rise, counting more than 820 million people suffering from undernourishment1 and one in nine people going to bed hungry every night, an estimated one-third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year, contributing 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter2. Moreover, when food is wasted, all the resources that went into it are also wasted (e.g. water for irrigation, land use for planting, energy, transportation vehicles, manufacturing and packaging, etc.). In France, the country the case will focus on, the treatment of food waste is responsible for the emission of 15.3 million tons of CO2, which represents 3% of the country’s total CO2 emissions. France is therefore determined to halve its total food waste by 2025. Valorizing and managing food waste with a view to making cities and communities more resilient and to close the life cycle of food products will allow for a more sustainable urban living in the future. The case shows one exemplary approach to this challenge.

The 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development firmly reflects the increased global awareness of the food waste problem. Specifically, Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 on “Responsible Consumption and Production” calls for halving per capita global food waste at retail and consumer levels by 2030, as well as reducing food losses along the production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses3. In line with the interconnected nature of the SDGs and the complexity of food production and consumption related problems (such as malnutrition, food scarcity, overconsumption), efforts to meet Target 12.3 will also contribute to meeting other SDGs, especially SDG 2, which aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. Although many countries are already taking actions to reduce food waste, the challenges ahead remain significant and global food waste continues to generate enormous financial, ethical and environmental costs.

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